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Hand over AIADMK HQ keys to EPS, orders Madras HC

Justice N Sathish Kumar, however, restrained AIADMK cadres and supporters from accessing the party office for one month to prevent untoward incidents

aiadmk news, edapaddi k palaniswamiThe Madras High Court on Wednesday asked the government to hand over the office keys to former chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami. (PTI Photo/R Senthil Kumar)

More than a week after the state revenue department sealed the AIADMK headquarters following the violence between two warring factions in the party, the Madras High Court on Wednesday asked the government to hand over the office keys to former chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, who was elected as the interim general secretary on July 11.

However, Justice N Sathish Kumar, who gave the order, restrained AIADMK from letting their cadres and supporters access the party office for a period of one month to prevent untoward incidents. The court also directed the police to provide security for the office.

The court order criticised the police for doing nothing to prevent the violence and also said that the revenue department’s move to seal the building was one without application of mind.

The court order was on petitions moved by both Palaniswami, or EPS, and his rival and former party coordinator, O Panneerselvam, or OPS. Both petitions had challenged the revenue department’s move.

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While the EPS camp claimed that the violence was orchestrated by the OPS faction and that they stormed the party headquarters “with stones, sickles, and sticks…and entered the premises and ransacked the premises” with the help of police, the OPS faction claimed that he was in possession of the building as the coordinator of the party. The EPS camp countered these claims by citing a “legal” decision of the party to remove OPS from the party’s primary membership.

The court order also criticised the police for doing nothing to prevent the violence. The court noted a status report that showed the gathering of around 300 party workers around 6.30 am on the day the violence happened. Noting that the gathering was to prevent OPS faction entering the office, the court said “it is relevant to note that as per entries made in General Diary, police personnel were sent to AIADMK office only at 08.05 am”.

“It is relevant to note that according to the police ‘B’ Party (OPS faction) has proceeded to the office only at 8.15 a.m. Even accepting the version of the police that at 6.30 am, there were many cadre of ‘A’ Party (EPS faction) present to prevent ‘B’ Party. Police were very much aware that if ‘B’ Party are allowed, there would be a law and order problem. But they have not taken serious steps to disperse the crowd. Only after the violence unleashed after the arrival of ‘B’ Party along with his supporters, who broke open the office and ransacked the premises, police came into action and filed the case,” the court said.

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On July 11, after the OPS faction occupied the party headquarters using force, the police had reached the spot and the revenue department had sealed the building. The court said the revenue department’s move was also one without application of mind. It added that orders passed by the revenue department did not record reasons and that preliminary enquiry “did not reflect the application of mind as to who was in possession…”.

“Only in such a scenario, the question of attachment could be passed. Without doing so, mechanical order attaching the property of the headquarters of the prime opposition party of the state will strike the very democratic process which amounts to oppression,” the court order said.

 

First published on: 20-07-2022 at 04:22:47 pm
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